Religious Diversity News

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Los Angeles World’s Leading City in Religious Diversity

Source: The Washington Post

On June 27, 1998, the Washington Post ran an Associated Press article that states “When it comes to religious diversity, Los Angeles beats every city in the world, according to a report by J. Gordon Melton of the Institute for the Study of American Religion. The Santa Barbara organization found 600 distinct religious groups in Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California. The London and New York areas have about 500 religions each.”

Constitutitional Debate over Muslim Police Officers’ Right to Wear Beards

Source: The New York Times

On June 26, 1998, the New York Times reported on a dispute in Federal appeals court: while the Newark, NJ police force requires clean-shaven officers and seeks to dismiss officers not in compliance, two Muslim officers are pursuing the right to wear beards due to religious obligation. “As the arguments unfolded in the old Federal courthouse, the case presented many incongruities. For one, it involves two black officers who are asserting their individuality in a predominantly black city with a black political leadership while being defended by the predominantly white leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police, the officers’ union.

In addition, their case is supported by an uncommon alliance of the American Civil Liberties Union; the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm that argues for wider expression of religious, and generally Christian, traditions.” The judges are now considering the case.

Redefining Religion in America

Source: Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles Times article on June 21, 1998 reports on
the “dramatic religious transformation” the United States is
currently experiencing. Paul Griffiths, professor of philosophy of
religion at the University of Chicago, states that “more religions
are being practiced in the United States than anyplace else.” Diana
Eck, professor of comparative religion at Harvard University, asserts
that “cultural pluralism is changing America’s religious life. It is
making our spiritual tradition much richer and broader.”

Los Angeles World’s Leading City in Religious Diversity

Source: Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times ran a two-part article June 21-22, 1998. The first part documents the growing religious pluralism in America, new “hybrid” forms, and changes within in the Christian religion. The second part documents change and the extensive religious diversity in Los Angeles.

Successful Interfaith Sharing Program

Source: Chicago Tribune

On June 19, 1998, the Chicago Tribune reported that “In the fall of 1996, McNamara and other religious leaders in Palatine and the south suburb of Hazel Crest embarked on an ambitious yearlong inititative to bring 12 different faiths closer together. Under the auspices of the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the dozen congregations paired up and shared sacred holidays, weekly services, potluck dinners, spiritual traditions and even weddings. The 200 or so participants hoped to find common ground among the disparate religions and spur dialogue at a grass-roots level. Now, more than a year and a half later, most participants are calling the exchange program a resounding success–so much so that the council’s Metropolitan Chicago Interreligious Initiative kicked off a similar project in April in Hinsdale.

National Conference of Christians and Jews Changes Its Name to Better Reflect Its Work and Inclusivity

Source: The Boston Globe

On June 14, 1998, The Boston Globe reported that The National Conference of Christians and Jews is celebrating its 70th anniversary by changing its name to the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). This new name more clearly reflects their work for entire communities, which includes interfaith work and also work on issues of gender, class, race, gay and lesbian issues, and disabilities. In Boston, the NCCJ works on leadership development with a variety of programs that connect people, and they have recently received the YWCA’s Racial Justice Award.

Hindu Temple in California Expands to Accommodate Shiva

Source: Los Angeles Times

On June 6, 1998, the Los Angeles Times published an
article on the expansion project of the Venkateshwara Hindu Temple in
Malibu, CA. The 15 year old temple is adding another wing to its
seven-acre complex to house stone-carved statues of Shiva and two
other deities. The temple is named for a deity who is said to be a
manifestation of Vishnu. Housing both Vishnu and Shiva is uncommon in
India, but more common in the United States. Nadadur Vardhan,
secretary of the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California, stated
that, “our philosophy and approach is to satisfy all Hindus as well
as other Americans.” An estimated 200,000 Hindus live in Southern

Gwinnett Interfaith Coalition Promotes Religious Tolerance

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On May 30, 1998, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
published an article on the activities on the Gwinnett Interfaith
Alliance, which began in 1996 as a chapter of the national
organization to promote the First Amendment right of religious
freedom. John D. Elliott of Duluth, GA, new president of the Gwinnett
Interfaith Alliance, wants to spur more activity from the 40-member
organization to “provide a bridge of love and understanding across
the faiths.”